OXFORD University Hospitals Trust NHS Foundation Trust and the John Radcliffe Hospital has found themselves under the spotlight of the national media this week.

The trust’s policy to refuse Caesarean sections unless there are medical grounds has come under fire from pregnancy and birthing campaigners.

Charity Birthrights has labelled the policy ‘inhumane’, threatening legal action unless the trust agrees to a review.

OUH itself, however, has claimed the policy is in keeping with the guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Many will ask whether women should be allowed to opt for the procedure without a suitable medical basis for doing so, while many others will argue it is the women who should be able to dictate the method of birth – after all it is their body; their child.

The guidelines say that women who request a C-section should be offered the procedure if it is the only ‘acceptable option’.

However, with the risks associated with the procedure, as there is with any surgery, some doctors refuse to carry out what some would argue is a needless operation unless there is a sound medical basis for doing so.

In these situations the patients must be referred to an obstetrician who will perform the procedure.

However, in an area where many of the surrounding trusts have similar policies, where does that leave the patient?

Do you travel hundreds of miles for treatment in what is already a particularly difficult and stressful time?

Or do you accept that a natural birth may be the best option in the situation?

Birthrights claims only 26 per cent of hospitals are following NICE’s guidelines in offering a C-section to women who want one, while 47 per cent have inconsistent or confusing policies on Caesareans.

The report showed just 39 hospital trusts would offer women C-sections if they want them.

Seventy trusts do not have a clear policy on whether they would offer the procedure, while 22 have a policy preventing C-sections on request. The policies of a further 17 trusts are unknown.

However, with women claiming to have been ‘bullied’ into a natural birth, some even claiming to have been left ‘psychologically scarred’, surely something has to change?

No-one can argue with a doctor’s prerogative to refuse to carry out the procedure, if they deem it to be an unnecessary risk.

However, if that decision leaves no other option for the patient other than a potentially traumatic natural birth, then one could argue the system is failing these women.

After all, the NHS was formed to provide healthcare to those that need it most.